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This year’s pow wow marks the 31st anniversary of the new holiday. The first Indigenous Peoples Day in Berkeley took place on October 12, 1992, on the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the struggle of the Indigenous People of the Americas to retain their culture and identity under the extremely difficult conditions of colonization.Celebrate with us in honor of all our ancestors, the people continuing the spirit today, and future generations.
HISTORY OF BERKELEY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY, 1992 - 2023
2023 marks the 531st anniversary of Indigenous resistance and renewal in the Americas.
The idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day was first proposed in 1977 to the United Nations by a delegation of Native nations. In 1990 representatives from 120 Indian nations from North and South America met at the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, along with many non-Native human rights activists, including a representative of Berkeley mayor Loni Hancock, and resolved to transform Columbus Day into “an occasion to strengthen our process of continental unity and struggle towards our liberation.” Upon return, Indian people of Northern California organized the Bay Area Regional Indian Alliance, and met at Laney College in Oakland with non-Native people to organize Resistance 500, the coalition that coordinated Bay Area 1992 activities with Indigenous leadership.
Resistance 500 proposed to the Berkeley City Council to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. We presented research showing how Columbus sent shiploads of enslaved Indians back to Spain, inventing the transatlantic slave trade. Under his leadership, over a hundred thousand Taino Indians on the island of Hispanola were killed and the survivors were enslaved in mines and plantations.
In October, 1991, the City Council unanimously declared that October 12th be commemorated henceforth in Berkeley as “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.”
We celebrated the first Berkeley Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992 with ceremonies, speeches, parades, exhibits and events in schools, libraries, museums, art galleries, and the University. We held our first powwow in our second year.
Indigenous Peoples Day quickly became a tradition, and is now celebrated around the country and around the world.
Co-sponsored by the City of Berkeley and Indigenous Peoples Day Committee.